My voice sounds best when my mouth is very shut (pictured)
My voice sounds best when my mouth is very shut (pictured)

Win: A free Audible download of Cocaine + Surfing!

Totally free! Tax and everything included!

It seems like the entire world can be broken into two camps these days. Those who read books and those who listen to books. I never really understood those who listen to books until I drove from north county San Diego all the way to Jackson, Wyoming and back over the holidays. I began with music but then transitioned to podcasts and then audio books. Music is great for a few hours but it becomes like wallpaper after a while. Podcasts are great for more hours but listening to a new subject every few hours can be slightly jarring. Audio books bring you in and allow you to luxuriate on the same topic for 8 to 15 hours.

Having someone reading to you, in your ear, is very intimate and soothing. Time just melts away and irritation at others’ poor driving etc. stops registering when you are in the very middle of a nice, lengthy story.

And did you know Cocaine + Surfing is also an audio book? It’s true! And Audible Audio book read by a famous reader named Tom Pile. The people at Audible didn’t ever ask me to read, when the book sold, and I assume it is because they heard my Muppet voice on the Grit! podcast. Maybe they heard it say, “I’m warning you Ashton…” and realized that it carried no weight.

Tom Pile’s voice carries much weight. It sounds like it has experienced many mafia sorts of things all noir and serious. I wish I could trade my voice for his. I probably would not have to try and choke people out anymore because my voice would signal how dangerous I am.

I can’t trade my voice, anyhow, but maybe it doesn’t even matter because you get to hear my thoughts through Tom Pile’s very tough baritone.

And guess what?

I have a free Audible version of Cocaine + Surfing to give away! Who wants? Simply tell the world which famous celebrity you would want to read the Audible version of your memoir in the comments below and I’ll chose one and gift you!

Play: Is it Stab or is it The Inertia?

A new gameshow certain to leave you puzzled!

I am a real sucker for radio gameshows and particularly one that plays here in the United States called Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! Oh my enjoyment is, no doubt, a product of my advanced age but I squeal with delight if I happen to get in the car when it’s playing.

The format is very simple. A funny host, Peter Sagal, runs through the news headlines with a panel of almost-celebrity “contestants.” They riff and joke and I sit in my car squealing with delight at everyone’s wittiness. A fun time and I also learn a little something along the way.

And so this morning, as I was scrolling though various surf news, and a few Stab headlines popped up and a few The Inertia headlines popped up and I was having trouble telling the difference between the two which made me think of this game here. Is it Stab or The Inertia? All you have to do is guess correctly and you’ll win Jen See’s voice on your answering machine. Are you ready?

Race, Representation and How the Surf Industry Can Save Itself.

(Is it Stab or The Inertia?)

How Santa Cruz Has Changed and Why Jason Collins is Moving to Alaska

(Is it Stab or The Inertia?)

How Rob Machado’s Freesurfing Fate Was Decided by a Sponsorship Contract

(Is it Stab or The Inertia?)

Why Japan’s Oceanic Olympic Future is Misguided and Harmful

(Is it Stab or The Inertia?)

Why Jaleesa Vincent Might be Just What Women’s Surfing Needs

(Is it Stab or The Inertia?)

Decades of Surf-Misogyny Finally Reversed at Keramas

(Is it Stab or The Inertia?)

Five Reasons Why New Zealand in Autumn is a Desirable Experience

(Is it Stab or The Inertia?)

Have a Cocktail in Santa Monica and Support A Walk on Water Surf Therapy

(Is it Stab or The Inertia?)

More difficult than you thought, no? Please list your guesses in the comments below (no peeking) and Jen See will call the winner up and leave an outgoing message that your friends and family will hear every time you screen them.

“Hi. This is Jen See from BeachGrit and you are trying to reach ________ who is not answering his phone right now because he doesn’t really like you. Leave a message after the beep. Thanks!”

Good luck!

Ride the Cymatic and feel like a master of the universe. No one else exists! | Photo: Billy Lee Pope

Cymatic Update: “What’s so wrong shedding blood to do what you love? “

More secrets revealed on Dan Thomson's latest planing hull design…

I won’t lie. Having the great Miki Dora accuse me of self aggrandisement, name dropping and providing minimal info on the board (Cymatic) was a kick in the nuts with a steel-capped boot.

He even vomited over the one positive comment my Bribie mate had given me in 40 years ( ollowed by calling me a useless cunt for not keeping on top of the regrowth from the Camphor laurels he chainsawed for me in December).

The real kicker, though, was being viciously impugned for not supporting my local surfboard shapers/builders. 

Granted this board was made in Thailand, but seeing as the design, refinement and testing has all happened within a stone’s throw of my crib and I’ve known the bloke responsible for > 20 years, it was a bitter pill to swallow and, I think, quite unfair criticism.

Granted this board was made in Thailand, but seeing as the design, refinement and testing has all happened within a stone’s throw of my crib and I’ve known the bloke responsible for > 20 years, it was a bitter pill to swallow and, I think, quite unfair criticism.

Given the first person account is the only honest way forwards and the Indian will always trump the arrow, a more techno/historical description follows, including an update with Powerdrive fins from Mark Thomson, designed and built in Lennox Head. 

The theoretical roots of the modern Planing Hull design lie in the work done by the redoubtable Professor Lindsay Lord of MIT, whose book Naval Architecture of Planing Hulls laid out some of the hydrodynamic properties of same. Glibly summarised, his chief finding was that short, rectangular hulls with wide sterns were the most efficient planing devices.

Lord’s planing hull Bible was discovered by prototypical Californian Bob Simmons, an architect of the surfing lifestyle and famous for leaving a trail of oranges along the southern Californian coast. It was Simmons who declared the surfboard to be a planing hull and began the process of incorporating Lord’s methodologies and results into the surfboard. 

Dan Thomson was dragged into the Simmons orbit via Richard Kenvin in the process of making the great unfinished cinematic epic about Simmons titled Hydrodynamica. Dan took the straight-railed Lis fish into the realm of the modern high-performance shortboard via a process too lengthy to describe here.

Its performance capabilities have been described: super fast off-the-mark planing speed and incredible manoeuvrability. Its flaws: steering control in turns and obligate short-arc surfing. Redress via fin experimentation was attempted.

Its performance capabilities have been described: super fast off-the-mark planing speed and incredible manoeuvrability. Its flaws: steering control in turns and obligate short-arc surfing. Redress via fin experimentation was attempted.

Mark, or Carcass as he is colloquially known, had seen the Cymatic in action and assured me the power drive fin, a kind of hockey stick template fin, would fix the steering problem. Days later, in the North Wall carpark a black Beamer pulled up beside me and Carcass handed me a package of fins out the window.

“Try these,” he said, “and let me know how they go.”

Today, in perfect zippering head-high Point surf they were tested. The board still paddled like a wet sock. Lady Luck and a little cunning strategy* in a thick crowd saw a set wave nabbed. The lack of fin base felt a little spongey through the opening high-line drives, to deter would be assassins from intruding.

The board whipped through a top-turn cutback and came straight back off the whitewater knuckle with control. More set waves followed. Steering was improved. A sizzling little session, for sure. A real little stoke-out. I did not fall.

Is this infomercial? I don’t know if these fins are for sale. Talking to others who had ridden confirmed my experience of improved control at speed. If you are on the modern planing hull trip you could try Googling it. 

On the way up the path, in the shade of a cottonwood canopy, I chatted to a new German friend, in booties and helmet, also on a Cymatic. He said he was a surf refugee. I felt compassion, brotherhood, but still faintly disgusted by the protective gear and the white puffy feet.

What’s so wrong with shedding a little blood to do what you love? 

*The frog in the Hole strategy. The frog waits in the hole, just too deep and off the take-off. Ignored, asleep: the frog launches out of the hole to nab the fly.

Surf Quiz: Would you shoot your kid for longboarding?

Or celebrate the diversity?

This is a serious question for our serious times. What if… and really go along with me here… what if you woke up one morning to the very pleasant news that your favorite local break was set to put on a wonderful show. That it was going to be 5 -8 feet with gentle offshore winds, warm air, warm enough water and let’s even say that it wasn’t going to be very crowded because of some sporting event or something (rugby league championship, Super Bowl… whatever). Barrels etc. and fantastic.

Let’s also say you are a proud father of a child who not only loves to surf but shows a preternatural instinct for the kingly dance. Maybe not future pro level but a real ability to almost tag the lip, air, barrel etc.

Now, of course you are very excited and run downstairs, or upstairs depending on the layout of your hypothetical dream house, and yell, “Daughter/son! We’re going surfing!”

Let’s say she/he whoops loudly and says, “I’ll meet you outside!”

You drink a little coffee, eat a little something, go to the garage and grab your 5’11, then to your hypothetical dream car and there is your progeny waiting for you with a…

… 9’0 log under her/his arm.

We all, of course, know that logging on flat days is so much fun but remember, proper swell is coming in here and you tell her/him, “Proper swell is coming in here.”

She/he responds, “Yeah! I’m so excited!”

You continue to eye her/his board up and down but there is no emotional response from your spawn except to say, “I’m a longboarder now!”

What do you do?

World Surf League fan paints new possible logo on cheek to celebrate move from France.
World Surf League fan paints new possible logo on cheek to celebrate move from France.

World Surf League to France: “Get bent!”

The governing body of professional surfing takes a jingoistic turn!

When the World Cup (Copa Mundial/Coupe du Monde) rolls around every four years it provides the opportunity for average workaday folk to put a fun face on wild jingoism. Flag waving, patriotic, chanting, cursing jingoism. But fun. And do you get caught up in the spirit? Do you cheer Switzerland over Brazil, say, because it allows you to be a touch racist without actually being a touch racist? Or are you Team Mexico jumping up and down while underdog heroes beat the big juggernaut?

Whichever the case, and again, the point is fun and after the matches Mexicans swilling XX and Germans swilling Spaten march swing arm and arm down the streets.

Somehow, though, the World Surf League missed that “fun” message and took this particular World Cup season to kick France in the balls. Press release? Sure!

The European headquarters of the World Surf League (WSL) will be set up in Lisbon, in what will be another step towards “positioning Portugal as the leading surfing country in Europe,” the Portuguese representative of the WSL, Francisco Spínola said.

“Lisbon and Portugal are going to be the showcase of European surfing for the world,” said Spínola, speaking to Lusa, confirming the move to the Portuguese capital after almost 30 years in France.

According to the official, this change is due to the organisation in Portugal of the main WSL events, including stages of the world tours for men, women and giant waves, as well as World Juniors, but also the proximity of beaches.

“In addition to all the accessibility of a European capital, Lisbon offers surfing half an hour from the centre and conditions for practicing the sport all year round,” he added, noting that the facility will be installed, initially in Lisbon, with around 10 to 12 workers.

Portugal is the European country with the most WSL events, organising in 2018 one stage of the world tour (MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal in Peniche), three qualifiers (Caparica Pro, Pro Santa Cruz and EDP Billabong Pro Ericeira) and one for giant waves (Nazaré Challenge).

According to Spínola, the facility to be installed in Portugal will be a “decision-making centre” for surf in Europe, as well as for Africa and the Middle East.

Well hmmmmm. Does it feel necessary, to you, for the WSL not only to move its center (centre) of operations from France to Lisbon but then add that Portugal will “lead European surfing” that it is more “accessible” with better waves, better facilities and better workers? Then once more twist the knife by calling it the “decision-making centre (center) for surf in Europe as well as Africa and the Middle East?”

Does this not sound a little bit like when jingoism wasn’t super fun? Like World War I or World War II-style jingoism? Even the age of colonization-style jingoism?

Hmmmmmmmmm. To be honest, I didn’t know the World Surf League had it in ’em. I am excited to see the flag that they fly above its new Lisbon offices. I wonder if it will be black, red and white with four interlocking geometric waves representing Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Santa Monica headquarters? Maybe something like this.